It’s a golden time for Antarctic research, with more and more countries taking a direct interest in the great southern continent. But suspicions abound as to the real motivations of key Antarctic players.
Archaeological discoveries can also boost political support for a case back home. “When remains or objects are found in the ice, I could see straight away it would inflate territorial nationalism,” says Dodds. “Archaeology has always been really important for national politics.”
Other events, such as historic shipwrecks, could play a similar role as the Yamana skull. In 1819, the Spanish frigate San Telmo was wrecked in the Drake Passage, which separates the tip of Chile from the Antarctic Peninsula. Archaeologists have searched the Antarctic islands for signs of whether any crew made it alive to the shore.
Using years of satellite data and photography, researchers have constructed an extremely detailed terrain map called the Reference Elevation Model of Antarctica that maps 98% of the continent down to a resolution of 8 meters. That makes it the most detailed terrain map of any continent.
There’s a settlement in Antarctica with a school, a post office and a huddle of homes. It’s like other sub-zero villages, except for one thing: families must have surgery to move in.